Academy for Wayward Authors: Is Artificial Intelligence a Worthwhile Marketing Tool? It Depends

Artificial intelligence and authorship

I find it ironic that authors won’t use AI tools to create a work of fiction but will willingly hand over their advertising headlines and copy to ChatGPT.

I’m not judging them for using AI. I’m being judgmental about how they run their entire business.

Let me be clear: I don’t care if you use AI. I care how you use it.

Person on laptop using Artificial Intelligence

If you don’t think it has a place in helping you improve your fiction, why should it be used in something as important as the only writing a prospect may ever read that you have created?


Last week, I shared the effort that went into direct mail pieces. Everything had to be correct. Next week, I’ll talk about Gene Schwartz and the effort he would put into a headline.

Your writing does the selling. For it to sell, we have a bunch of mini-transactions that must occur, or the book won’t be read. Each one is as important as the other until we get the reader to your first sentence of fiction.

The headline sells the copy. The copy sells the call to action to buy a book. Only then is there a chance they will read your book and see you as an author worth reading.

Therefore, if you choose to use AI, use it correctly.

First, understand how to design prompts. Then, analyze and further develop the results to meet the quality threshold of being worthy of the only ad you get to run this year.

I believe that all AI will do is produce more of what goes into it. The old “garbage in, garbage out” maxim applies. How fast you can iterate ideas and revise them to something worthy of last week’s article can be different.

We are months away from the major ad platforms offering AI tools to do it all for you. You just keep pouring money in, and they will have their machine learning optimize your ads for you.

What won’t change is the regression to the mean.

Early adopters will have a benefit. Then the masses will pile in and get similar mediocre results because mass adoption removes the competitive edge.

What doesn’t lose its power is audience reach.

The defining choice is building an audience reach engine rather than creating a business based on AI productivity. What will stand out is being unique and on-brand. Take the time to make a unique and exciting brand promise and market it.

Use what you’ve learned about human behavior and group psychology to inform the prompts you design to inspire your creativity when using AI.


Never forget that it’s the acumen of the user of any tool that makes the difference.

In my case, I use AI to ideate, research, and clean up my writing. At every step, I also do a human check.

Recently, I was doing research using Google Bard. Bard took me on a twenty-minute fantasy ride before I double-checked its results and determined that it was making things up as it went along. When I asked if it was fabricating the content, it confirmed it was making up the information.

Machine learning is fast and efficient in many tasks and dismal in others. Be sure you are using its strengths to support your weaknesses.

Read: Gene Schwartz’s Timeless Advice on Crafting Compelling Headlines